Patients with anxiety and mood disorders — especially generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder — had lower levels of self-compassion, according to findings presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America annual conference.
“Research shows that self-criticism and shame are implicated in anxiety and mood disorders and stigma,” Ricks Warren, PhD, ABPP, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at University of Michigan, told Healio Psychiatry.
Prior evidence has demonstrated that self-criticism is a risk factor for psychopathology that may impede treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, whereas self-compassion is a robust resilience factor for offsetting self-criticism, according to the presentation abstract.
“Our research compared levels of self-compassion in a group of patients seeking treatment for anxiety and mood disorders, so we could find out in which disorders low self-compassion is most present,” Warren said. “Findings can inform treatments so that low self-compassion, self-criticism and shame can be effectively addressed.”
The researchers compared self-compassion across anxiety and mood disorders in patients seeking treatment at a university-based community clinic. During treatment, patients completed the Self-Compassion Scale. The investigators determined primary DSM-IV diagnoses via clinical interview. In total, 69 participants had generalized anxiety disorder, 43 had anxiety disorder not otherwise specified, 30 had MDD and 42 had other anxiety or mood disorders.
After comparing the groups, the researchers found a marginally significant difference in total scores for self-compassion in patients with major depression (M = 2.1; SD = 0.63) and those with anxiety disorders (M = 2.36; SD = 0.66).
Self-compassion scores were not significantly different in patients with generalized anxiety disorder and those with major depression, according to the results. Both indicated below average scores which were significantly lower than patients with anxiety disorder not otherwise specified who showed scores in the moderate range.
“Clinicians, no matter what condition they are treating, should look for the presence of these self-denigrating conditions and target them in their treatments, likely leading to more effective treatments,” Warren told Healio Psychiatry.
Future research should examine the importance of including self-compassion in interventions for anxiety and mood disorders, according to the abstract. – by Savannah Demko
Warren R. Self-compassion: A comparison of GAD, other anxiety disorders and MDD. Presented at: The Anxiety and Depression Association of America Annual Conference; Mar. 28-31, 2019; Chicago.
Disclosure: Warren reports no relevant financial disclosures.